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by Vault Law Editors | June 26, 2019

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Vault's 2020 Quality of Life, Diversity, and Summer Associate Program rankings are here, and O’Melveny & Myers LLP has made history as the first firm to earn the No. 1 spot in the overall ranking for each category.

This year, nearly 20,000 associates participated in Vault’s Annual Associate Survey. Given the increasing response rate to the survey, Vault has expanded its Overall Best Law Firms to Work For ranking from 25 firms to 50 firms. Choate Hall & Stewart LLP, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, and Jackson Walker L.L.P. all broke into the top 10 this year. The top 25 saw significant movement, as well, with Covington & Burling LLP, Cozen O’Connor, Gibbons P.C., Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, and Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP moving in. After reclaiming the No. 1 spot as Best Law Firm to Work For from Paul Hastings LLP last year, O’Melveny held onto the spot again this year, leading the No. 2 firm—Latham & Watkins LLP—by .045 points with a score of 9.218.

Vault’s 2019 Top 10 Best Law Firms to Work For are:

  1. O’Melveny & Myers LLP
  2. Latham & Watkins LLP
  3. Clifford Chance US LLP
  4. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
  5. Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
  6. Ropes & Gray LLP
  7. Paul Hastings LLP
  8. Jackson Walker L.L.P.
  9. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
  10. Choate Hall & Stewart LLP

 

The top 10 Best to Work For firms are truly a diverse group, with no “typical” firm profile—the firms span size and geographic location. Latham and Clifford Chance each have more than 2,000 lawyers, while Choate has fewer than 200 lawyers. And the firms’ roots reach everywhere from Boston to California to New York to Texas to the U.K.

Associates at No. 1 O’Melveny rave about the firm’s culture, describing it as “exceptional,” “friendly,” and “laid-back.” In the words of one associate at the firm, “I am challenged daily and am grateful for that.”

“Based on our survey data, the two biggest factors associates weighed when selecting their firms were quality of work and firm culture,” said Mary Kate Sheridan, Vault’s Senior Law Editor. “O’Melveny has clearly created a professional and social culture that has satisfied these priorities.”

Vault’s Quality of Life Rankings

The Law Firm Quality of Life Rankings are derived from Vault’s Annual Associate Survey in which nearly 20,000 associates rated and commented on various aspects of their work lives. This year’s Best 50 Law Firms to Work For rankings were calculated using a formula that weighs associate ratings in a dozen different areas: Overall Satisfaction (25%); Firm Culture (10%); Hours (10%); Quality of Work (10%); Compensation (10%); Business Outlook (5%); Career Outlook (5%); Associate/Partner Relations (5%); Transparency (5%); Informal and Formal Training (5%); Pro Bono (5%); and Overall Diversity (5%).

Vault Introduces Technology & Innovation Ranking

This year, Vault introduced a new ranking: Technology and Innovation. Associates were asked to rate their satisfaction with their firms’ technology in terms of work efficiency, remote working, and innovation on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being completely unsatisfied and 10 being completely satisfied).

“Effective technology is becoming more and more important to the efficient practice of law, especially with the rise of remote working,” said Sheridan. “But technology is an area in which many firms struggle, especially in terms of striking the right balance between security and innovation, so firms that excel are far ahead of the curve.”

Vault’s 2020 Top 10 Firms for Technology & Innovation are:

  1. Cozen O’Connor
  2. Latham & Watkins LLP
  3. O’Melveny & Myers LLP
  4. White & Case LLP
  5. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
  6. Kirkland & Ellis LLP
  7. Ropes & Gray LLP
  8. Littler Mendelson P.C.
  9. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
  10. WilmerHale

 

With an impressive score of 9.465, Cozen O’Connor captured the top spot in Vault’s inaugural ranking. One associate sums up the firm’s technology commitment: “Technology never hinders [me] and only ever helps [me] complete my work, whether at home or at the office. Our firm is very innovative and constantly adopting new platforms to deliver legal services.”

Five Quality of Life Sub-Categories See New Leaders

Vault’s Quality of Life rankings include 15 subcategories. This year saw many of these sub-categories maintain the same leaders. O’Melveny held onto its No. 1 spots in Satisfaction, Firm Culture, Hours, Associate/Partner Relations, and Quality of Work; Wachtell continued as the leader in Compensation—a position it has held since the 2014 ranking; Williams & Connolly LLP ranked No. 1 in Selectivity for the third year in a row; and Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP once again took the top spot for Integration of Laterals & Clerks.

But some rankings saw new leaders ascend, with Latham leading the way. Latham captured three No. 1 rankings this year: Business Outlook; Informal Training, Mentoring, & Sponsorship; and Transparency. O’Melveny also moved from its No. 2 spot in Career Outlook to take the No. 1 position. And Patterson Belknap added another top ranking, moving from No. 2 to No. 1 in Pro Bono.

The No. 1 firms in Vault’s Quality of Life categories are:

  • Associate/Partner Relations: O’Melveny & Myers LLP
  • Business Outlook: Latham & Watkins LLP
  • Career Outlook: O’Melveny & Myers LLP
  • Compensation: Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
  • Firm Culture: O’Melveny & Myers LLP
  • Formal Training: Ropes & Gray LLP
  • Hours: O’Melveny & Myers LLP
  • Informal Training, Mentoring, & Sponsorship: Latham & Watkins LLP
  • Integration of Laterals & Clerks: Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP
  • Pro Bono: Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP
  • Quality of Work: O’Melveny & Myers LLP
  • Satisfaction: O’Melveny & Myers LLP
  • Selectivity: Williams & Connolly LLP
  • Technology & Innovation: Cozen O’Connor
  • Transparency: Latham & Watkins LLP

 

Latham Is Only Firm to Rank in the Top 10 of Every Quality of Life Ranking

Not only did Latham capture three No. 1 rankings for quality of life this year, but it is also the only firm to rank in the top 10 of every quality of life category. The firm made several impressive jumps, including capturing the No. 5 spot for Hours after previously being unranked, jumping from No. 17 to No. 3 for Quality of Work, leaping from No. 11 to No. 1 for Business Outlook, moving from No. 14 to No. 2 for Firm Culture, and breaking into Associate/Partner Relations at No. 8 after previously being unranked.

Associates describe Latham as “extremely collaborative, laid back, and social” and note its “positive morale and culture.” When it comes to relationships with leadership, one associate shares that “partners and associates work together collaboratively, and it feels like a team and not an ‘us versus them’ hierarchy.”

O’Melveny is Top Firm for Overall Diversity; Three Other Firms Reach the Top 10 in Every Diversity Category

O’Melveny reigns supreme when it comes to diversity in the 2020 Vault rankings. The firm not only claimed the No. 1 spot for Overall Diversity—moving up from its spot at No. 2 in the 2019 rankings—but it also ranked No. 1 as the Best Law Firm for Diversity for Individuals with Disabilities, Diversity for LGBTQ Individuals, and Diversity for Women. As one O’Melveny associate indicated, “There are few firms who take diversity as seriously as OMM.”

Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete LLP held on to the top spot for Best Law Firm for Diversity for Minorities.

In addition to O’Melveny—which also ranked No. 3 for Diversity for Racial Minorities—three law firms ranked in the top 10 of all five of Vault’s diversity rankings: Carlton Fields; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP; and Ropes & Gray LLP.

Vault produces rankings in four individual diversity categories: Diversity for Individuals with Disabilities, Diversity for LGBTQ Individuals, Diversity for Racial Minorities, and Diversity for Women. To create our Overall Diversity ranking, Vault averages the ratings from these four categories.

O’Melveny’s Summer Program Sits Atop Vault’s Rankings; Thompson & Knight Takes Top Spot for Best Summer Associate Program for Attorney Interactions

O’Melveny held onto its No. 1 rankings for Best Overall Summer Associate Program and Best Summer Associate Programs for Career Development, and the firm claimed the top ranking as the Best Summer Associate Program for Social Experiences.

Thompson & Knight LLP jumped from its spot last year at No. 5 to No. 1 for Best Summer Associate Programs for Attorney Interactions.

This year, five firms achieved spots in the top 10 for all four summer program rankings: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, Clifford Chance US LLP, Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP, O’Melveny, and Orrick.

Vault asked junior associates (first years through third years) who participated in their current firm’s summer associate program to rate their experiences on a scale of 1 to 10 in six different areas. From those ratings, we ranked the best summer associate programs in three categories: Attorney Interactions (based on associates’ scores for meaningful interactions with firm attorneys); Career Development (giving equal weight to associates’ scores for substantive assignments, training and mentoring, and effective preparation for life as an associate); and Social Experiences (giving equal weight to associates’ scores for the quality of events and satisfaction with firm-sponsored social opportunities and social interactions). The Overall Best Summer Associate Program ranking reflects the average of all six individual ratings (attorney interactions, substantive assignments, training & mentoring, preparation for associate life, quality of events, and satisfaction with firm-sponsored social opportunities and social interactions).

Access the complete set of each of these rankings here: Vault 2020 Best Law Firms to Work For, Vault 2020 Best Law Firms for Diversity, Vault 2020 Best Summer Associate Programs.

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